- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's see what's in the weekend mailbag.
Mike from Ireland writes: James, what are your thoughts on the New England Patriots' cornerbacks?
James Walker: I'm not high on them, Mike. It's not a bad group on paper. But when you see them on the field, it doesn't add up. It's a lot of missed assignments, failing to stick to receivers, etc. The corners on the Patriots simply don’t cover well. Bill Belichick is almost forced to play zone to even have a chance to stop the good quarterbacks and passing game. We saw that in the Super Bowl.
Ari S from Boston writes: With BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, should the Patriots pursue free-agent running back Cedric Benson?
Walker: Nope. Bad fit and has character concerns, Ari. The Patriots are better off sticking with their young running backs. There is enough potential there where New England doesn't have to force it and take on a risk.
Ben from New York writes: If New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow doesn't end up starting this year, what sort of stat line can we expect from him?
Walker: Interesting question, Ben. A lot of people are expecting Tebow to start at some point, either through injury or performance. But if everything goes well for New York's offense, I think it's realistic to expect 300-400 yards rushing from Tebow, and maybe about 200 yards passing. The sum of 500-700 total yards is very solid from a backup quarterback, who usually contributes next to nothing on most teams.
Jason from Brooklyn, NY, wants to know if recently release corner Drew Coleman could be a target for the Jets.
Walker: Yes, Jason, I do see this as a potential match for several reasons. First, Coleman obviously played well for the Jets and knows the system. Second, he's versatile and can play in the nickel spot. Third, Darrelle Revis is in a contract dispute and you just never know how far this is going to go. Coleman can add more depth behind Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson just in case.
BUM from Chesapeake, VA, writes: James, any chance the Miami Dolphins try to upgrade the receiver corps with anyone still on the market?
Walker: Yes, Bum, the Dolphins are one of several teams who could make a late addition at receiver. But right now Miami wants to see what it has in mini-camps and offseason workouts before making that decision. There are some interesting names out there. Jacoby Jones and Braylon Edwards are two of the top receivers looking for jobs. I also mentioned Donald Driver as a possibility for Miami if Green Bay cuts him, because of Driver's history with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. But Miami doesn't have much cap space left and still has to get the Cameron Wake situation resolved. That could force the Dolphins to stay put for now.
Hernán from Argentina writes: Do you think the Dolphins are rebuilding? How many games do you think they can win this season?
Walker: Absolutely, Hernan, the Dolphins are in rebuild mode. They are setting up the team for the long-term, which is what the Dolphins must do. They're not catching the Patriots anytime soon. I think Miami is under a 2-3 year plan, with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's development being the key.
Brandon from New Windsor, NY, writes: Who do you see as the best potential receiver to step up and be a solid No. 2 receiver for the Buffalo Bills? T.J. Graham? Donald Jones? Marcus Easley?
Walker: We examined this question on Friday, Brandon. Buffalo drafted Graham with hopes that he can produce right away. He has the speed, but you never know with a third-round pick. Jones is coming off an injury and has to prove he can bounce back, and Easley is unproven. I would peg Jones and Graham as the favorites. If that doesn’t work outm moving David Nelson from the slot again would be an alternative.
Pat from Erie, Pa., writes: With the Bills having a pretty solid offseason so far, do you think they are closing the gap between them and the other AFC East teams?
Walker: Absolutely, Pat. It's no secret now that Buffalo is my sleeper pick for 2012. Although I'm not ready to make predictions in terms of record, I think the Bills are in position to definitely improve on their 6-10 record this year. A big component will be winning in the division. The Bills have to beat the Jets and Dolphins to turn things around. That is the key. Buffalo split with New England last year, but that's more of a luxury.
DieHard III from Houston, TX, writes: Can you come up with your best definition of what an elite QB is?
Walker: Everyone has their own definition of "elite," DieHard. So I wouldn't say my interpretation is the general consensus. But I view an elite quarterback as one of the top five or seven players at their position. Guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and you can throw Eli Manning in, as well. It's a combination of being a prolific passer and winning. Some can do one but not the other. But the elite quarterbacks can do both.
Comment and complaint department
Lawrence Miller from Wallingford, VT, writes: How many Super Bowl rings do you have? Bill Belichick has a few.
Walker: Lawrence, I assume this has something to do with criticizing New England's second-round pick of little-known safety Tavon Wilson. Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time. You will rarely see any criticism of Belichick's coaching in the AFC East blog, because he makes nearly all the right moves. However, that doesn't mean his personnel decisions are perfect. Belichick makes personnel mistakes like everyone else, especially in the second round. So it's fair to question the Wilson pick. He wasn't invited to the combine and most didn't think he had a second-round grade. At the very least, New England could've waited a couple rounds before taking this kind of reach.
JR from Tampa Bay writes: I think the Tannehill pick was horrid as a Phin-fan. A head coach has a 3-4 year shelf life and putting a first round pick into a guy who's probably 2-3 years off from a quality starter isn't good. If he fails to develop, that means in a few years we'll be looking for a new head coach and a new QB. The Phins turned it around in the last half of the previous season so as a fan, this back to square one rebuilding is going to be painful. IMO they should have just bite the bullet and brought Chad Henne back for one more year to compete with Moore and then traded whatever it took to draft Matt Barkley next year.
Walker: JR, you lost me with bringing Henne back and trying to get Barkley. That just wasn’t going to happen. Henne had four seasons to prove he was the guy and clearly wasn't. How many chances should Henne get? Barkley is a projection. The Dolphins probably would have to win two or three games next season to have a shot at Barkley, a projected top three pick. You can't count on that. Other than that, I understand you're point about Tannehill. The Dolphins have put their reputation on the line with him. But listening to the team's brass over the weekend, the Dolphins are convinced he’s the guy. We probably won’t know for a couple years.
Clint Buckland from Webster, TX, writes: I'm predicting Ryan Tannahill will win the QB job by Week 10. In your opinion, what's the odds?
Walker: I view that as the starting point, Clint. Week 10 is probably the earliest to expect Tannehill in the lineup, barring injury. Miami thinks it can be competitive with a veteran quarterback, while mentoring Tannehill. I don't expect the Dolphins to win many games. So I think there's a chance Tannehill can play late in the year just to get his feet wet before eventually taking over in 2013.
Nick from Buffalo writes: How in the world did Buffalo -- one of the up and coming teams in the league -- only get one prime time game? And it's a Thursday night game? C'mon man!!!!
Walker: Buffalo fans and your AFC East blogger are the only people who think the Bills have potential this year, Nick. That's why they are called a "sleeper" pick. All I ask is Buffalo fans remember who called it before anyone else.
Jesse from Long Island writes: Hey James, what do you think the Jets' record next year will be and where will they rank in the AFC East? I think they can go 12-4 honestly, with loses to New England once, San Diego, Houston, and San Francisco. Looking at the rest of their schedule, it seems pretty easy. If not 12-4, do you at least see them getting at least 10 wins?
Walker: Jesse, I think 12 wins are too ambitious for this year's Jets. But 10 wins are possible if a lot of things fall their way. Will quarterback Mark Sanchez have a career year? Will the sniping and in-fighting stop? Will the safety play and pass-rush improve? Can right tackle Wayne Hunter block consistently this year? These are some of the questions that have to be answered for New York to get back to the playoffs.
AFC East Homer of the week
Ferko from Denver, Colorado, writes: I don't understand why everyone is giving the Jets so much grief. This will go down as the best Jets draft in history without a doubt. It'll take 2 years before Quinton Coples is constantly winning DPOY awards, and I can promise that Stephen Hill will most likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer after he breaks all of Jerry Rice's records.
Walker: Sloooow down, Ferko. Nothing screams homer more than putting rookie draft picks in the Hall of Fame before they play their first snap. Despite some questions, I like the potential of both Coples and Hill. Their ceilings are high and I think New York has a chance to hit a home run with both picks. But let's not make Coples the best defensive player in the NFL or make Hill the greatest receiver of all time. That's way too much. Congrats, Ferko, on being our AFC East "Homer of the Week."